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Agriculture committee  I'll start off and then pass it over to Janet. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Canadian mushroom industry. Members of the committee, we come before you today with some grave concerns. It's now the end of May. The pandemic started in March, and we're stil

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  I'd say it's been a steady increase for us. There's been a lot of expansion across Canada over the last 10 years, and we've had increased exports to the United States at the same time.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  I apologize for that.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Sir, I was just saying that we have had an increase in production over the last 10 years, in addition to that going to the United States. About 40% of mushroom production in Canada goes to the United States.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  There was a bit of a drop at the outset. There was a bit of a reaction in the retail sector, in addition to the loss of the food service, but now the exports to the United States have actually increased, as they've been experiencing the COVID situation as well. Some of that food

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Stats Canada has over 132 growers, but as far as our membership and the sizable commercial production goes, we're looking at about 52, which employ about 4,500 people across Canada.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Mushrooms are a fairly responsive crop. They grow about 4% every hour, which doubles their size every 24 hours, essentially, but when there was the oversupply and they were throwing away product, they cut production back. It takes about a month from beginning to finish, from when

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  The average cost is difficult, because there is a wide variety of types of production. Certainly, when they are having costs that high, they are putting in the maximized benefit and prevention methods: the Plexiglass, the masks, the increased housing and increased transportation.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  That's through our 52 farms.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Yes and no. We probably represent over 90% of the mushrooms that are found in the grocery stores and the exports to the United States.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  There has been an opportunity, and certainly the Ontario government, too, has provided some funding for doing the online sales and creating portals for that. We have to recognize that there has been a huge burden for these farms in the costs of COVID, and, at the same time, they

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Yes. We spoke to the minister directly about this as well, identifying the issues with accessing these programs. There are really two major issues for us. One is that there is a cap, and these farm operations are running into the cap for the $3 million. If you think of the scale

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Yes, it's a very labour-intensive industry. It's probably close to 50% of the costs. Every fresh mushroom that you find in a grocery store is picked by hand.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  I'll let Janet answer that one, but I would say that we do have major labour issues. We're always in the situation of having high vacancies in the mushroom industry and the temporary foreign workers—

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag

Agriculture committee  Honestly, I can't really speak to that.

May 27th, 2020Committee meeting

Ryan Koeslag